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sesame soba noodle bowl

by Jackie Newgent  |  June 25, 2012  |  3 Comments

Makes 4 servings: 2 cups each

Surprisingly, the biggest caloric issue with sesame noodles is often not the sesame oil or the peanut butter … it’s the actual noodles. So here’s how I solve this quandary. Bell peppers basically become part of the noodles to provide fewer calories and bigger flavor. You’ll cook the bell peppers right along with the noodles; so there’s no extra cooking step required either. This cool meal-in-one is a definite winner (for lunch, dinner or a picnic) for my eyes and palate. It was for my summer intern, Sarah Gelman, too (who helped me test this recipe). Hoping you fall in love with this delicious dish like we did. Please let us know what you think!

Calories Saved: 140

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy no-added-sugar organic dark roasted peanut butter
3/4 cup unsweetened freshly-brewed green tea or low-sodium vegetable broth, chilled
3 tablespoons naturally-brewed soy sauce
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes or sriracha hot chili sauce to taste
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons unrefined sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
12 ounces dry buckwheat soba noodles (or try spelt or kamut soba noodles)
2 large red bell peppers, very thinly sliced into long strips*
1 Kirby cucumber, thinly sliced into coins, or 1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
2 scallions, green and white parts, very thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 teaspoons roasted or pan-toasted black or white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Add all of the peanut butter, tea, soy sauce, vinegar, hot pepper flakes, agave nectar, sesame oil, and ginger to a small saucepan; stir to combine. Cook while whisking over medium heat until the sauce is smooth, slightly thickened, and begins bubbling, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl and set aside. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.**)
  2. Add the soba noodles and bell peppers to a pot of boiling water. Cook until the noodles are cooked through (al dente), about 4 minutes, or according to the noodle package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water until cool; drain well. Add the noodles and bell peppers to the sauce in the large bowl along with the cucumber and scallions; toss to combine.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and cilantro and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Per serving (if serves 4): 570 calories, 20g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 700mg sodium, 83g total carbohydrate, 9g dietary fiber, 14g sugars, 19g protein

Watching calories extra closely and want a <500 calorie meal? Instead of 4 servings, portion this into 5 servings—1 2/3 cups each.
Per serving (if serves 5): 460 calories, 16g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 560mg sodium, 67g total carbohydrate, 7g dietary fiber, 11g sugars, 15g protein

*If you prefer, try this with 3 cups of your favorite very thinly sliced seasonal veggie of choice, such as yellow summer squash or zucchini.
**Time-saving tip: Use a bottle of all-natural Thai peanut sauce instead.

The “Before” Recipe

cold sesame noodles

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon red chili paste, or ot taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated gingerroot
1 pound linguine or egg noodles
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  1. Add the peanut butter, 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, vinegar, hot pepper flakes, brown sugar, sesame oil, and ginger to a small saucepan. Cook while stirring until smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the peanut butter sauce to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Cook the linguine according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water. Add the linguine to the sauce in the medium bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds and serve cool or at room temperature.

Per serving: 710 calories, 24g total fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 990mg sodium, 104g total carbohydrate, 6g dietary fiber, 18g sugars, 25g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • Cut veggies, such as bell pepper, into thin noodle-like strips to replace part of the noodles
  • Pick a richer tasting noodle, like buckwheat soba instead of regular spaghetti
  • Use dark roasted instead of plain/raw nut butter for the most nuttiness
  • Use an unrefined instead of refined sesame oil and toast sesame seeds to get more pop of sesame goodness
  • Go for extra splashes and pinches of flavor by adding a little more vinegar, gingerroot, and hot pepper flakes
  • Create a bigger portion and more textural interest by adding veggies, like cucumber
  • Finish with a fragrant aroma from fresh herbs
  • To thin sauce, use a flavorful calorie-free or low-cal liquid, like unsweetened green tea, instead of H2O



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